My Little Sous-Chef

I love to cook.

I’m not a talented chef who knows how to pare different flavors or anything like that. I simply enjoy the act of cooking. Of course, I have a toddler running around so setting aside time to cook – I mean, really cook – is rare. Cooking actually takes away from mommy time with Charlotte.

(Lots of household activities encroach on time with Charli, but I use it to my advantage in most cases!)

Instead of completely giving up on one of my few hobbies, I’ve started engaging Charlotte in the cooking process. I ask her to choose between two different recipes or two vegetables or two fruits. I realize that her choices are probably based on what is most visually appealing at this age, but I’m hoping that this practice encourages her to make decisions for herself. Being an extremely indecisive person, I really want to teach her to importance of making decisions!

In addition to making choices for mealtime, I’m starting to include her in the cooking. She will drag a chair across the kitchen and slap the seat yelling “UH! UH!” (translation: UP! UP!) until I pick her up and place her on the seat. I scoot the chair up to the counter so she can watch as I measure and mix. I talk to her the whole time, explaining what I’m doing and what I’m making.

Yesterday, she helped me make turkey chili. She poured the different ingredients into the crockpot for me. After watching me stir for a few seconds, Charli decided it was the coolest thing ever! She stirred and stirred, and was not happy when I told her it was time to cook the chili.

Charlotte won’t remember this experience with me because she is too young. She won’t remember what it was like to have me leaning over her, wrapping my hand around her hand as I taught her how to stir the ingredients. She won’t remember the pure, innocent joy in that moment.

And she won’t remember that she refused to eat even one bite of the chili when it was done.

But I will remember. At least I hope I will.

It was one of the most bittersweet moments I’ve had in a while. It was such an awesome, happy experience, and it made me long for my mom so very much.

So it seems I have a new cooking buddy, my little sous-chef. I won’t have to give up my hobby, and I won’t have to miss out on time with my daughter. It’s a win-win… If only she would eat what she cooks!

Taking Advantage of Rare Free Time

I used to think the worst thing to happen to a weekend would be no plans.

Now?

I pray for just one day for one day free from activities and schedules. And then I realize that my daughter is one-year-old. The schedules will only become exponentially busier.

I’ll be trying ducking and weaving through panic attacks in my future, but today I’m simply struggling to balance my family-faith-friends-work-volunteer balance. As you can understand, this is no easy feat!

Last weekend, I was constantly on the go. Looking back at my time – Friday through Sunday – I can isolate four, maybe five hours of quality time with Charlotte. … And that makes my heart ache. I find myself sneaking into her room to swoop her up for extra hugs and kisses.

In order to make up for missing out on the precious time offered on the weekends, I let dinner cook in the crockpot so I wouldn’t need to cook today. I designated all night as family night!

We all three enjoyed a meal AT the dinner table. This was huge for us! We rarely eat the same meal, let alone at the same time. Enforcing the family meal time isn’t a possibility with HOS’ career, but I’m happy to take advantage when I have the chance!

After dinner, we let Charlotte paint her first pumpkin! This was another example of cute ideas online that never turn out as expected in real life.

First, Charli decided to taste the paint and then spent a good five minutes gagging, coughing and spitting.

Second, painting MY pants turned out to be far more amusing than painting pumpkin.

Third, Charli wanted to actually paint. … With a brush! We now have some nice purple and blue splatter on the kitchen walls.

Most importantly, though, we had a happy baby girl covered in paint and smiles.

We ended the night with a bath, play time and reading.

Life isn’t going to be slowing down any time soon, so it’s up to me to take advantage of what little time we do have as a family. I guess that means more scheduling? 🙂

What do you do to take advantage of rare free time with your family?

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